Actor Sam Waterston to visit Congress to tout hearing for Fair Elections Now bill

Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 487-0518

Nick Nyhart, Public Campaign: (202) 255-9430

Rick Bielke, Public Campaign, (202) 255-6147

House Administration Committee Thursday to consider proposal that would create a voluntary congressional campaign finance system of small donors and public financing

In advance of a U.S. House hearing on a proposal that cut the connection between big donors and elected officials, actor Sam Waterston, star of television’s Law and Order, will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday to meet with lawmakers and media to tout the benefits of a system of public financing for congressional races.

Waterston will be available for the press via phone from 2:30 to 5:00 pm EDT. Those interested can reach Waterston through Nick Nyhart, president of Public Campaign, who will escort the actor around the Hill in advance of Thursday’s hearing before the House Administration Committee at 11 am. Waterston is planning to meet with members of Congress and press.

“[The] wisdom of the people, on which democracy depends, can’t be heard — and we can’t change the results we’ve been getting — without changing the way we fund our elections. Simple, voter-centered public financing will take the taint out of campaign donations and invite ordinary citizens into the political process,” Waterston wrote in an opinion piece published April 30 in The Boston Globe, describing the Fair Elections Now Act.

On Thursday, the House Administration Committee will consider the first bipartisan public financing of elections bill in recent memory. The proposal, sponsored by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and Todd Platts (R-Pa.), would allow qualified candidates to run for Congress on a system of public funding and small donations. Candidates who voluntarily agreed to accept no more than $100 per contributor for each election, including a primary and general election, would be eligible for a 4-1 match of federal funding. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) is the lead sponsor of companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

In addition to the bill sponsors, others expected to testify Thursday include Arn Pearson, vice president of programs for Common Cause, a campaign finance expert with expertise on publicly funded election programs; Jeff Garfield, the election administrator of a similar program in Connecticut; and other election experts.

The coalition backing the measure includes the Brennan Center for Justice, Change Congress, Common Cause, Democracy Matters, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG. A broad coalition of civic, online, advocacy, union, church, environmental, and civil rights groups have endorsed the campaign reform measure.